Most people move to New York City with a plan. Actually, most people move to any new city with a plan. And, especially when it is their first apartment out of college, most people’s plan involves a van full of kitchen utensils and cozy blankets and clothing and toiletries and enough of their favorite snack to get them through the first tumultuous week. Sometimes, a plan can be as simple as homemade brownies.
But I’m starting to learn that I’m not “most people” and not only did I move to New York City without a plan, I moved by accident. Twenty-seven days ago, I boarded a one-way plane bound for Milan, Italy, eager to start the trial period of an internship with a student travel company. While I had amazing experiences during my time there and met absolutely incredible people, I quickly realized that the job wasn’t for me. Armed with that knowledge and some new opportunities arising in my country of origin, I booked a ticket to New York City.
I stayed with my brother for a few nights and without him, this grand adventure wouldn’t be possible. (Shout out to the boys and the Basset Hound of that apartment for allowing me to crash for a few days on the living room sofa).
Then the true challenge began. I went grocery shopping. I applied for jobs. I looked at housing. I had to weigh my options. Was it worth staying in the most expensive city in the country at this point in my life? I had returned to New York to pursue my dream company but now everything seemed so uncertain.
I became even more impulsive (my theme for 2016, apparently) when I paid 1-month of rent on a Craigslist found apartment in West Harlem, a stone’s throw from Central Park. I was unemployed, 21, and felt like I had no prospects to anything. I could feel my ambition fading and my confidence disappearing entirely. I had interviews for jobs in New York, Pittsburgh, even as far as Portland, Oregon. Everything was up in the air.
Then, on Friday, the 22nd I received two of the best emails I could have dreamed of within a few hours of each other. The wifi in my apartment tends to be hit or miss so I had decided to set up shop at a café a few blocks away for an evening of responding to emails and thinking about my future. I ordered a bowl of vegetable soup, settled into a corner table, and opened my computer.
Email 1: I got the job…the job being working at Riverside Church, a historic nonprofit approximately 1 mile from my apartment. The position is part-time and is going to give me so much professional development and I can’t wait to learn from the amazing mentors I have already met there.
Email 2: I got the job…the job being with DoSomething.org, as a part time marketing intern for the Spring semester. DoSomething has been my dream company for years and there I was in a low-lit café on a Friday night hopelessly trying to contain my excitement. Every fear, worry, and uncertainty had dissolved through two concise emails.
I looked back and forth between a dying phone battery and a computer on its last leg. (I’ll never understand why coffee shops have such limited outlets). I quickly made my responses and was able to work out a perfect full time schedule between two amazing organizations where I will learn and grow and be very happy. I can’t imagine how things could have worked out any better.
The next day was what they (whoever the ‘they’ is that makes these decisions) are calling the 2nd largest snow storm in New York City’s history. I’ve never been somewhere that has entirely shut down and I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen so much snow in such a short period of time in my life.
In theory, I started my afternoon on my way to the library to work on some writing. In actuality, I left my building and went the opposite direction of the library, just to peak into Central Park. I hadn’t planned on staying there, but what I found was pure elation, and that is hard to walk away from. There were kids flying down garbage lid tin sleds and toddlers tossing their mitten-covered hands into the fluff that surrounded them. There were young couples smiling and catching snowflakes on their tongues and the sweetest golden retriever puppy who was just learning what snow was for the first time. Everyone was happy. Everyone said hello. The girls were fighting the boys with snowballs and the young parents helped their little ones with snowmen. I watched an older gentleman tumble into the snow and begin the bold process of a snow angel. I watched the teenagers fall to childhood whimsy and give in to the beauty of this unique New York day.
I was observing all of this when I saw a girl of about my age wearing a camera on her neck standing a few steps away from me. I took a chance.
“Are you just wandering around taking it all in too?”
That girl is now the best friend I have in the city. We spent the remainder of the day exploring the park. When we got too cold, we ducked into a coffee shop for hot chocolate and tea. When the coffee shop decided to close, we walked North, smiling at people and taking photographs. We helped push an ambulance out of the snow and marveled at the togetherness of strangers in the midst of a historic blizzard. We walked down the middle of 5th Avenue and never had to worry about a car.
Between the news of Friday night and the snow of Saturday morning, I’m not sure I’ve had a better 24 hours in my life. Saturday was also my brother’s birthday and even though we couldn’t go anywhere with an entire city shut down, he and his friends and I were able to make the most of being snowed in with music and games and fun. Oddly enough, things were working out.
True, most people move to New York City with a plan. But other people move to New York City with a dream.
Or maybe I’m a little bit of both. I might have moved to New York City on a whim…but I did have a plan: a plan to pursue my dreams with patience and persistence and the belief that something incredible was waiting just around the corner.